New York City has a problem.
New York City is crowded. That’s the fact that all of us New Yorkers love to hate; the hustle and bustle of the trains, buses, bikes, and cabs—to say nothing of the pedestrians and personal vehicles—is one of the things that makes the culture of our city (sometimes frustratingly) unique. That closeness that we enjoy with our fellow Big Apple denizens comes with a dark side: We have way too many traffic injuries and fatalities. According to the data that the city collects, nearly 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured in traffic accidents each year. In any given year, as many as 250 of our fellow citizens are killed. These numbers come as no surprise to us at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier, P.C. As one of New York City’s best personal injury law firms specializing in accident cases, we meet many of our clients for the first time after they have been a victim of one of these tragic events.
New York City has a population of more than 8.5 million people; there are more than 1.6 million New Yorkers living on the island of Manhattan alone. For years, the city and her citizens seemed to take the view that injuries and fatalities due to traffic accidents were an inevitability. We didn’t like it, but there did not seem to be a viable way to reduce the number of accidents in a city that is so crowded. That attitude, while understandable, was unfortunate—especially for young people. Being stuck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for New York City Kids under the age of 14, and it is the second leading cause of death for our seniors. According to the NYPD, someone is seriously injured or killed by a motor vehicle in our city every two hours.
Vision Zero—A New Approach to Traffic Safety
In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City leadership concluded that merely accepting the rate of traffic severe injuries and fatalities was no longer acceptable. They reasoned that continuing to be a world-class city meant that the life of each New Yorker had to be considered sacred; the primary responsibility of city government is to protect the safety of the public. By making public protection a foundational value, the city determined that a bold new initiative was needed. The result of this change in vision was the Mayor’s Vision Zero—a $28.8 million plan to slash the number of traffic deaths, most of which are pedestrians, by more than 50% by 2025. The primary principle of Vision Zero is that no traffic injury or fatality is inevitable or acceptable. In the words of Mayor de Blasio, “A life lost is a life lost. And it is our collective responsibility to save every life we can, be it a life taken in a violent crime or in a crash with a motor vehicle.”
The Vision Zero plan is sweeping in its scope. 63 individual initiatives to mitigate traffic injuries and fatalities were put into place in 2014, with an additional 88 actions having been identified since that time. Among many enhancements, the Vision Zero plan for NYC includes:
· Enhanced NYPD enforcement of traffic laws
· Increasing the number of school crossing guards
· Safe cycling initiatives
· Exploring options for using traffic circles
· Leveraging traffic sensors and advanced analytics
· Upgrading cycling intersections
· Increasing the number of left-turn calming upgrades
· Installing speed bumps and raised crosswalks to reduce speeds
· Implementing driver fatigue education and Vision Zero high school instruction
· Making high-visibility crosswalks the city standard and increasing the frequency of marking replacement
In addition to these potentially lifesaving Vision Zero initiatives, criminal penalties against traffic violators were established and speed limits were reduced. In many areas of the city, the speed limit is now 25 miles per hour, and other “slow zones” have been established. Under the current law, if a driver can be imprisoned if their failure to yield to a pedestrian causes an injury or death. In the spirit of Vision Zero, these sorts of violations are now an area of emphasis for the NYPD and the NYC District Attorney’s office.
About Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier, P.C.
As one of New York City’s top personal injury law firms, Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier P.C. is more than acquainted with the terrible toll that careless driving takes on NYC residents. Since 2001, we’ve been fighting for justice on behalf of accident victims; we specialize in areas such as bicycle accidents, car accidents, pedestrian accidents, wrongful deaths, premises liability, workplace accident, and much more. If you suffer the misfortune of being involved in an accident, we are ready to ensure that your rights are protected. Visit our “About Us” page to learn more and contact us at (212) 777-9400 or here on our website.